Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Accent Truss looking for Carpenter!

HBA of Greenville member Accent Truss is looking for a carpenter to add to their team. Ideal candidate would be a team player, positive, and have a willingness to learn. This person would work in the shop as an apprentice carpenter with the goal of turning into a highly skilled carpenter after working with Accent. Some wood working and carpentry skill and experience is required.
For more information to apply contact Accent Truss at or call 877-898-5108.

CDC moves the goal post on lead paint

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently changed its standard on which it bases its efforts for reducing childhood lead exposure.

Previously, the CDC used 10 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood as its standard for a "level of concern" for lead poisoning,  The agency replaced that standard with a focus on the 2.5 percent of the population most exposed to lead.  This change sets up a scenario in which industries like Remodeling will suffer through ever more expensive measures to mitigate a continuously decreasing risk of exposure.

Craig Webb, Editor-In-Chief of Remodeling, presents an effective argument against the CDC's change in his "First Word" in this month's Remodeling.  Below is Webb's column, used with permission.

Add It Up
On the lead-paint rule, whose needs matter more?

Odd as it may seem, the debate over the lead-paint rule reminds me of the movie Saving Private Ryan. If you’ve seen the movie, no doubt you remember how director Steven Spielberg first shows in stomach-turning detail the carnage U.S. troops suffered on Normandy’s D-Day beaches and then juxtaposes that with a platoon’s search to find and safely bring home just one soldier.

Saving Private Ryan ostensibly is about the sacrifice by the many to make possible our concern for the one. The lead-paint fight echoes that notion, because at its heart lies this question: Is it worth spending millions of dollars and remodelers’ hours to protect a relatively small number of kids and pregnant women from lead exposure?

A recent letter to the editor illustrates this. In it, remodeler Mike Patterson of Gaithersburg, Md., takes issue with June’s First Word column in which I noted that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has decided to stop using 10 micrograms of lead in a deciliter of blood as its standard for a “level of concern” and instead will focus on the most exposed 2.5% of the population, no matter how low the number may be. I likened the CDC’s decision to what manufacturers do when they implement error-reduction programs to improve their assembly lines.

The CDC says it changed its tack because it can’t say how small an amount of lead in blood is safe. The problem, Patterson correctly points out, is that the CDC’s action removes the possibility that we’ll ever be able to declare victory on this issue, while simultaneously forcing us to commit ever-greater resources for an ever-smaller gain.

“The idea that nothing is ever good enough is a pervasive one, but it’s a pernicious and expensive one as well,” Patterson writes. “Pernicious in that it never allows one to feel that something worthy has been accomplished, and expensive, as it forces us all to shave our profit margins ever thinner, in the pursuit of ... what? A goal? How is that possible, when the goal posts are moved every time we approach?”

America has done amazing work combating lead exposure. In the late 1970s, studies found that an estimated 88% of children aged 1 to 5 had 10 micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood. When similar tests were conducted between 2007 and 2010, just 0.8% of the kids had the same level.

Note that this improvement came before the lead-paint rule took effect, and at a price (largely from getting lead out of gasoline) that our society could afford. Tens of millions of kids are out of danger, and now a relatively few remain.

I never liked the premise of Saving Private Ryan, and I don’t like what the CDC did here. The rule’s cost doesn’t justify the benefit.

Craig Webb is editor-in-chief of REMODELING. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Aging-In-Place Checklist

Have you ever wanted a quick reference for aging-in-place issues? Are you wondering how to incorporate some aesthetically pleasing designs into your projects? If so, the Aging-In-Place Design Checklists might be suited to your needs.

The checklists below contain features you may want to consider for your next new construction or renovation project. They also give you a quick reference for various aging-in-place issues. While these lists are not all-inclusive, they will get you thinking on the right track.

  • Low-maintenance exterior (vinyl, brick)
  • Low-maintenance shrubs and plants
  • Deck, patio, or balcony surfaces are no more than ½ inch below interior floor level if made of wood
Overall Floor Plan
  • Main living on a single story, including full bath
  • No steps between rooms/areas on the same level
  • 5-foot by 5-foot clear/turn space in living area, kitchen, a bedroom, and a bathroom
  • Minimum of 36 inches wide, wider preferred
  • Well lit
  • Accessible path of travel to the home
  • At least one no-step entry with a cover
  • Sensor light at exterior no-step entry focusing on the front-door lock
  • There needs to be 32 inches of clear width, which requires a 36-inch door
  • Non-slip flooring in foyer
  • Entry door sidelight or high/low peep hole viewer; sidelight should provide both privacy and safety
  • Doorbell in accessible location
  • Surface to place packages on when opening door
  • Flush preferable
  • Exterior maximum of ½ inch beveled
  • Interior maximum of ¼ inch
Interior Doors
  • There needs to be 32 inches of clear width, which requires a 36-inch door
  • Levered door hardware
  • Plenty of windows for natural light
  • Lowered windows or taller windows with lower sill height
  • Low maintenance exterior and interior finishes
  • Easy to operate hardware
Garage or Carport
  • Covered carports and boarding spaces
  • Wider than average carports to accommodate lifts on vans
  • Door heights may need to be nine feet to accommodate some raised roof vans
  • Five-foot minimum access aisle between accessible van and car in garage
  • If code requires floor to be several inches below entrance to house for fume protection, can slope entire floor from front to back to eliminate need for ramp or step
  • Ramp to doorway if needed
  • Handrail if steps
  • Lever handles or pedal-controlled
  • Thermostatic or anti-scald controls
  • Pressure balanced faucets
Kitchen and Laundry

  • Wall support and provision for adjustable and/or varied height counters and removable base cabinets
  • Upper wall cabinetry three inches lower than conventional height
  • Accented stripes on edge of countertops to provide visual orientation to the workspace
  • Counter space for dish landing adjacent to or opposite all appliances
  • Base cabinet with roll out trays and lazy susans
  • Pull-down shelving
  • Glass-front cabinet doors
  • Open shelving for easy access to frequently used items
  • Easy to read controls
  • Washing machine and dryer raised 12 to 15 inches above floor
  • Front loading laundry machines
  • Microwave oven at counter height or in wall
  • Side-by-side refrigerator/freezer
  • Side-swing or wall oven
  • Raised dishwasher with pushbutton controls
  • Electric cook top with level burners for safety in transferring between the burners, front controls and downdraft feature to pull heat away from user; light to indicate when surface is hot
  • 30-inch by 48-inch clear space at appliances or 60-inch diameter clear space for turns
  • Multi-level work areas to accommodate cooks of different heights
  • Open under-counter seated work areas
  • Placement of task lighting in appropriate work areas
  • Loop handles for easy grip and pull
  • Pull-out spray faucet; levered handles
  • In multi-story homes, laundry chute or laundry facilities in master bedroom
  • Wall support and provision for adjustable and/or varied height counters and removable base cabinets
  • Contrasting color edge border at countertops
  • At least one wheelchair maneuverable bath on main level with 60-inch turning radius or acceptable T-turn space and 36-inch by 36-inch or 30-inch by 48-inch clear space
  • Bracing in walls around tub, shower, shower seat, and toilet for installation of grab bars to support 250 - 300 pounds
  • If stand-up shower is used in main bath, it is curbless and minimum of 36 inches wide
  • Bathtub - lower for easier access
  • Fold down seat in the shower
  • Adjustable/ handheld showerheads, 6-foot hose
  • Tub/Shower controls offset from center
  • Shower stall with built-in antibacterial protection
  • Light in shower stall
  • Toilet 2 ½ inches higher than standard toilet (17 to 19 inches) or height-adjustable
  • Design of the toilet paper holder allows rolls to be changed with one hand
  • Wall-hung sink with knee space and panel to protect user from pipes
  • Slip-resistant flooring in bathroom and shower
Stairways, Lifts, and Elevators
  • Adequate hand rails on both sides of stairway, 1 ¼-inch diameter
  • Increased visibility of stairs through contrast strip on top and bottom stairs, color contrast between treads and risers on stairs and use of lighting
  • Multi-story homes may provide either pre-framed shaft (ie. stacked closets) for future elevator, or stairway width must be minimum of 4 feet to allow space for lift
  • Residential elevator or lift
  • Slope no greater than one inch rise for each 12 inches in length, adequate handrails
  • Five-foot landing provided at entrance
  • Two-inch curbs for safety
  • Adjustable closet rods and shelves
  • Lighting in closets
  • Easy open doors that do not obstruct access
Electrical, Lighting, Safety, and Security
  • Light switches by each entrance to halls and rooms
  • Light receptacles with at least two bulbs in vital places (exits, bathroom)
  • Light switches, thermostats, and other environmental controls placed in accessible locations no higher than 48 inches from floor
  • Electrical outlets 15 inches on center from floor; may need to be closer than 12 feet apart
  • Clear access space of 30 inches by 48 inches in front of switches and controls
  • Rocker or touch light switches
  • Audible and visual strobe light system to indicate when the doorbell, telephone or smoke or CO2 detectors have been activated
  • High-tech security/intercom system that can be monitored, with the heating, air conditioning, and lighting, from any TV in the house
  • Easy-to-see and read thermostats
  • Pre-programmed thermostats
  • Flashing porch light or 911 switch
  • Direct wired to police, fire, and EMS (as option)
  • Home wired for security
  • Home wired for computers
Smooth, non-glare, slip-resistant surfaces, interior and exterior
If carpeted, use low (less than ½ inch high pile) density, with firm pad
Color/texture contrast to indicate change in surface levels

Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning
  • HVAC should be designed so filters are easily accessible
  • Energy-efficient units
  • Windows that can be opened for cross ventilation, fresh air
Energy-Efficient Features
  • In-line framing with two by six studs spaced 24-inch on center
  • Air-barrier installation and sealing of duct work with mastic
  • Reduced-size air conditioning units with gas furnaces
  • Mechanical fresh air ventilation, installation of air returns in all bedrooms and use of carbon monoxide detectors
  • Installation of energy efficient windows with Low-E glass
Reduced Maintenance/Convenience Features
  • Easy to clean surfaces
  • Central vacuum
  • Built-in pet feeding system
  • Built-in recycling system
  • Video phones
  • Intercom system
Other Ideas
  • Separate apartment for rental income or future caregiver
  • Flex room that can used as a nursery or playroom when the children are young and as a home office later; if combined with a full bath, room could also be used for an aging parent/aging in place
Source: National Association of Home Builders

Workforce Development a Continuing Problem as South Carolina Gets C- for Manufacturing, Logistics.

A recent study compiled by Ball State University Center for Business and Economic Research, and highlighted in Upstate Business Journal, gave South Carolina and overall grade of C- for the states logistics and manufacturing. While South Carolina has improved from previous studies moving from a D to C- the report maintains that human capital continues to be a problem. Part of the problem is low educational achievement  among adults therefore hindering workforce development and creating problems in other areas of the study.

In the "2013 Manufacturing and Logistics National Report" South Carolina received:

A in Manufacturing                        
A in  Global Reach                           
B in Sector Diversification             
C in Tax Climate                    
C-in Productivity and Innovation
D in Worker Benefit Costs     
D+ in  Expected Liability Gap
D+ in Logistics                       
D in Human Capital 

To read more from UBJ about this article click here.

How to get the most from your HBA Membership

Membership in the HBA of Greenville is a great tool for both networking with in the industry and to consumers. With the Southern Home and Garden Show, event sponsorship opportunities getting you front and center of your target audience, and networking opportunities to meet others in the industry- creating word of mouth for your company and services is easy right? While all of this is GREAT how can you get the most from your membership and see results? It may seem like an easy answer but like most things in life " you get what you put in". Involvement is key and keeps your business and services on the forefront of every ones mind from staff, to HBA board members, and even right here on our blog or facebook page.
So, while every one is busy these days here are a few things that you can do from the comfort of your office to help get the most out of your membership.
1) Make sure that your listing is correct on our website and in our database- Name of business and business activities (you can have up to 3)
* This helps consumers and staff make sure that the services you provide pull up correctly on the website and database when looking for say a realtor, remodeler of historic homes, etc.

2) Create a website or facebook page and make sure that it is listed with us.

3) Check out the discounts offered by visiting our website HBA of Greenville there are some great discounts available. 

4) Check out our Wednesday Webinars through NAHB, these are a great way to stay informed on what is happening in the Building industry and the best part is you don't have to leave your office to learn something new.

So while involvement is a big part of membership and a great way to see results there are other ways to make sure that your membership is working for you.

NAHB: Tax code rewrite threatens homeownership, rental housing, and home building

The U.S. Senate is considering revamping the tax code which could eliminate some or all housing tax incentives. The Senate Finance Committee recently announced it will consider comprehensive tax reform and initiate proceedings with a blank slate: no exemptions, deductions, or credits.

According to NAHB, this could harm the bottom line of all residential construction businesses, depress home values, impose a tax increase on home owners, and cause massive layoffs in housing and other industries

Many of the tax reform proposals have suggested eliminating or reducing the mortgage interest deduction, the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, the capital gains exclusion for home sales and the deduction of property taxes, among others.

NAHB has issued a Call-To-Action to HBA members asking them to contact their Senators and tell them to preserve housing tax incentives like the mortgage interest deduction and low income housing tax credit.  To act and contact your Senators, click here.

Monday, July 8, 2013

S.C. leading index of economic indicators up for 4th straight month

South Carolina’s leading index of economic indicators in May improved for the fourth straight month and hit its highest point since June 2007, according to a report posted by the S.C. Department of Commerce.

The leading index, driven in part by a jump in new-home construction and a drop in unemployment claims, reached 101.1 in May, according to the report, authored by David Clayton, director of the agency’s research division.

“Heading into summer, the housing market continues to improve in South Carolina,” the report said.

The number of residential construction permits rose 26.3% in May compared with April. Meanwhile, the total value of the permits issued in May rose 17.5%.

The coastal region posted the largest increases in new residential construction permits with Charleston up 53% in May over the previous month, and Myrtle Beach up 39%.

The median sales price for a single-family home climbed $8,500 or 5.6% in May, the reported added.

“Last month’s median sales price gain was the largest, in dollar terms, since August 2009,” the report said.

Overall, the volume of home sales in May rose 21% compared with May 2012, with the heftiest increases in Greenville and Spartanburg, each up about 40%.

On the jobs front, nonfarm employment increased 5,400 jobs or 0.3% in May from the prior month.

Meanwhile, the average weekly number of initial claims for unemployment insurance was 4,306 in May, about 2.6% less than April and about 4% less than May 2012.

Greenville reported the largest decline at 14%, followed by Spartanburg, down 9%.

Other key S.C. indicators in May included:
  • Personal income decreased 1% to $163.3 billion in the first quarter.
  • S.C. stock index gained 1% of 0.95 points, closing at 100.85.
  • 0.01% decrease in labor force, down 276 to seasonally adjusted 2,169,409.
  • No change in unemployment rate at 8%.
  • 1.4% decrease in weekly manufacturing hours to 41.3 hours.
  • 0.4% decrease in available online job posts to seasonally adjusted 56,400 listings.
Source: Columbia Regional Business Report

Greenville MSA on the Improving Markets Index for 24th consecutive month


A total of 255 metropolitan areas across 49 states and the District of Columbia qualified to be listed on the National Association of Home Builders/First American Improving Markets Index (IMI) for July, released today. This is down slightly from the 263 metros that made the list in June, but is more than triple the number of metros that were on it in July of 2012.

The Greenville MSA, which includes Pickens, Laurens, and Greenville counties, was on the list again, for the 24th consecutive month, an indication that our local market has seen improving conditions since December 2010. Spartanburg, a small MSA, also is on the list.

The IMI identifies metropolitan areas that have shown improvement from their respective troughs in housing permits, employment and house prices for at least six consecutive months. Six new markets were added to the list and 14 were dropped from it in July. Newcomers include the geographically diverse metros of Cumberland, Md.; Saginaw, Mich.; Farmington and Las Cruces, N.M.; Kingston, N.Y.; and Olympia, Wash.

“This is the sixth straight month in which at least 70 percent of all U.S. metros have qualified for the Improving Markets Index,” observed NAHB Chairman Rick Judson. “The relative stability of the IMI is representative of the broad recovery underway, which is much more extensive than what we were looking at one year ago.”

“Despite slight ups and downs in recent IMI levels, an overwhelming majority of U.S. metros -- including those located in almost every state -- remain solidly on the path to recovery even as the pace of their improvement is slowed by ongoing challenges related to the availability of credit, labor, lots and certain building materials,” added NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “Based on recent trends in home prices, housing permits and employment, the outlook for a continued housing expansion remains very positive for the remainder of 2013.”

“The fact that more than two-thirds of all U.S. housing markets continue to be represented on the improving list should be a boon to consumer confidence at a time when many are looking to take advantage of today’s very favorable mortgage rates,” observed Kurt Pfotenhauer, vice chairman of First American Title Insurance Company.

The IMI is designed to track housing markets throughout the country that are showing signs of improving economic health. The index measures three sets of independent monthly data to get a mark on the top Metropolitan Statistical Areas. The three indicators that are analyzed are employment growth from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, house price appreciation from Freddie Mac and single-family housing permit growth from the U.S. Census Bureau. NAHB uses the latest available data from these sources to generate a list of improving markets. A metro area must see improvement in all three measures for at least six consecutive months following those measures’ respective troughs before being included on the improving markets list.

A complete list of all 255 metros currently on the IMI, and separate breakouts of metros newly added to or dropped from the list in July, is available at